So, it's saturday morning, and I'm not a football fan really, but like many people I have a latent interest, enough to excite me on cup day. I Google'd the phrase 'FA Cup Final' and got a bunch of likely-looking results. Clicking on the result titled 'FA | The FA Cup' I thought 'that page will tell me what time it's on telly...'. This is what I got:
The heading read 'The FA Cup, 04 May 2012'. Damn, what? Yesterday?!http://www.message.co.uk/ I thought it was today!
I clicked the name at top-left in the navigation, thinking if I go back to the home page, that will surely have info on the FA Cup final.
This is the FA's home page on the day of the FA Cup Final:
No mention of the cup final. What's going on?
I didn't want to 'buy anything now', so I had to click an 'enter' button. The web equivalent of a pointless double door. (I though I had already 'entered' the site, but what do I know...) So, I clicked the stupid button. And got this:
Hmm, that's odd. No mention whatsoever of the most important single event in the FA calendar in all that featured content. There is a glimpse of the competition poking up from beneath the fold. Let's have a look shall we?
Woohoo!. There it is, the FA Cup Final. Let's click that.
WHAT THE HELL? The final was on the 25th April?! How did I miss it? And why on earth was it on a Wednesday? Hang on, Budweiser? That's American, right? I'm not even sure I'm on the right website now, back to Google to check...
Yep, I'm on the right site, pretty certain. Navigate back to that page to check the date.
Oh. That's the article date, thank goodness, I haven't missed it.
Ball of confusion
Why on earth would anyone care what date that article was written? It's not a blog, it's not a review of a past event or a news report: it's a notice about a forthcoming event. Surely that's the only date that's important here?
I know the actual date of the final was on that page, lower down, but the article date was far more prominent.
Sites like this so often fail to respond to predictable peaks in demand for specific content on particular days or periods of time. It's so obvious that this weekend the majority of people looking at the site are going to want information on the FA Cup final, and yet they have made no provision for those users. (I have a similar experience with the awful Tour de France website every year, but that's another story.)
Owners of websites like this should put things in place to accommodate this kind of date-specific demand. But it's likely that everyone has been so busy within the organisation that they've failed to look beyond their own needs. It smacks of typical 'corporate' websites which exist purely as a reflection of the corporation's structure rather than as a service to the website users.
Whether it's organising overtime for web editors or setting up timed releases of content, there are ways of doing this properly, so long as it even occurs to you to think of your users in the first place.